THERE’S A DEVIL IN THESE DETAILS …
|| By FITSNEWS || “Republicans” at the S.C. State House – and governor Nikki Haley – seem to be coalescing around an “alternative” plan to raise gas taxes as the 2015 legislative session winds down. After Haley’s proposed gas tax/ income tax swap went nowhere – and after proposed House and Senate tax hikes drew recrimination from the governor – all sides appear to be settling on a compromise.
FITS broke the initial details of this “alternative” plan earlier this week … but we’re just now getting the fine print.
And guess what: That fine print is disastrous for dirt poor South Carolinians – who already pay a higher percentage of their income on fuel costs than residents of any other state save Mississippi or West Virginia.
In other words, there’s a devil in these details … several devils, actually.
On the surface, the “compromise” doesn’t seem as bad as the previously proposed tax hikes. On the one hand, gas taxes would be raised by 12 cents over the next three years, while on the other hand all marginal income tax rates would be cut by one percentage point over the next five years.
Naturally we oppose such a tax shift on the grounds we’ve consistently held: That with a $25.7 billion budget that’s grown by $5 billion over the last five years, there is more than enough money to fund roads and bridges without raising taxes.
Hell, there’s more than enough money to fund roads and bridges while cutting taxes … our state’s leaders simply lack the conviction to do so.
“While the Palmetto State’s roads and bridges crumble, its lawmakers continue to pass record-setting budgets,” we wrote earlier this year. “Included therein? Billions of dollars for South Carolina’s worst-in-the-nation government-run school system, its duplicative and inefficient higher education system, bailouts for wealthy corporations, shady ‘economic development‘ deals and … lest we forget … dozens of exorbitantly expensive and totally unnecessary highway projects.”
But this so-called compromise “tax shift” is far worse than it appears …. for two very critical reasons.
First, the plan raises gas taxes in perpetuity.
That’s right: It doesn’t just raise gas taxes by 12 cents, it allows the gas tax to be increased automatically every year based on inflation.
That, ladies and gentleman, is a permanent tax hike.
Second, the plan’s income tax relief is NOT guaranteed.
The proposal’s authors claim they are lowering all of the state’s marginal rates by one percentage point over the next five years, but these reductions would only take place if the government’s revenue estimates came in above four percent growth in a given year.
In fact one of the State Senators supporting the plan – Sean Bennett – admitted during a press conference this week that the income tax cuts were unlikely to take effect.
This isn’t a tax swap, people … it is typical South Carolina smoke and mirrors. And no lawmaker calling themselves a “Republican,” let alone one who calls themselves a “conservative” can support it.